A letter of self-love by Simbongile Ndlangisa

In a new series on 10and5, we explore the notion of radical self-love through letters written by South African womxn to themselves. In part two, co-founder and digital editor of Melenial, Simbongile Ndlangisa speaks about the journey towards radical change and the freedom that comes with knowing when to put yourself first.

Dear Sim, 

I have been so good at delaying my penning of this letter to you, which you could say forms part of why I am now taking the time to do it. There has been no better time to look closely at the shift in your being at 22 years old – it has been something beautiful to be a part of and witness.

“Modern psychologists define it as it the strong desire for emotional union with another person,” – is part of what comes up when you click through the first few results of your Google search of what love is. But wait, here we are again looking at a source outside of ourselves to define for us what should be determined by you and I. And thus explains the many dealings we have had with this perplexing concept.


But this is different. This is me seeing you and loving you, loving me and loving us. Nothing has challenged you more, but nothing has been more rewarding. This journey we have been on has made maybe the most radical change when you decided that loving another is futile when you don’t know how to love yourself. I say radical because after being taught for 20 years by umakhulu nomama that thinking of yourself comes absolutely last – we must constantly think about and love others more than ourselves, remember? – challenging this has freed you.

And in this freedom, I have found more love for you than I ever knew I could. Watching you finesse the work you enjoy doing, the sparkle in your eye when you labour tirelessly to create something beautiful – that is love. Catching you looking into a full length mirror and discovering a beautiful new way to admire your body, that is something. It’s taken so long for you to get to this place, I know.


A new friend just told us about manifesting our intentions as September is the month of rebirth and new beginnings. I dare you to make a point of reminding yourself that you are magic, “to make the things that make the dreams to come true” and to manifest the intentions you have set out for yourself. There is nothing that I can imagine could demonstrate more love to yourself than that.

Sims, OUT!

Photos and .gif by Lauren Mitchell.

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